Remarks on the occasion of the 3rd Annual Budapest 48 Hour Film Project Screening and Awards Ceremony

Remarks by Ambassador Colleen Bell

on the occasion of the 3rd Annual Budapest 48 Hour Film Project Screening and Awards Ceremony

September 19, 2016


Jó estét kivánok!  Good evening!

Thank you very much for inviting me to join you here this evening.  Many congratulations to Jutka Bari, Richard Shut, and everyone involved in organizing the 3rd annual Budapest 48 Hour Film Project and the professional workshops leading up to it.  And many thanks to the jury members for their time and contributions to the future of filmmaking in Hungary.

And of course, many congratulations to all of the teams that competed this year.  I admire your courage and your endurance to survive what I’m sure was often an emotional and agonizing process.  To conceive, cast, shoot, and edit your films in just one weekend is not easy.  And as many of you may be aware, I used to work in Hollywood in television and film production, so trust me, I know this was far from a simple process.  I applaud your efforts and your accomplishments.

From the very first 48 Film Project in Washington, DC, held in 2001, this program has expanded to more than 150 cities around the world – from Australia to Tunisia to Budapest.  Over the past 15 years, nearly 30,000 short films have been created as part of 48 Hour Film Projects around the world, and the project has become a rite of passage for both new and experienced filmmakers.

Ambassador Bell at the awards ceremony (Embassy photo)
Ambassador Bell at the awards ceremony (Embassy photo)

This is the third year in a row for the festival in Budapest, and it’s great to see how it brings together experienced and amateur filmmakers to tell stories inspired by their own experiences and their hometowns.  I’m also impressed with the diversity of the teams, especially the number of female filmmakers involved.  It’s also very interesting to see the international community of Budapest reflected here – this is a truly global city with so much to share with the world.

I have heard from Jutka that this project has built an independent film community that stays in touch throughout the year, and I hope that tradition continues.  Some of the best ideas in Hollywood have come from friends who meet in classes or workshops and decide to create their own opportunities, so that person sitting next to you tonight might be standing next to you on the Oscar’s red carpet one day.

It is a great pleasure for the Embassy to support this community by partnering with the 48 Hour Film Project.  The Embassy recognizes the importance of independent voices in a strong, healthy civil society.  Everyone should have the opportunity to express his or her thoughts and ideas freely.  The media has a particularly crucial role in examining social issues from many angles and broadening the perspectives of the public.

Beyond the cameras, booms, and props in your films, the tools necessary for success are the same skills you’ll need throughout a career in the media, or any field: stress management, team work, and creative problem solving.

This process really stretched your creativity to the extreme.  I bet some of the genres you picked were tricky and it was so interesting to see how you handled the compulsory elements in your short films, especially incorporating a Hungarian language student and a flashlight.

The film chosen as the best in this year’s 48 Hour Film Project in Budapest and a representative of the winning team will go on to compete against the best from around the world.  And I know Hungary routinely sends high quality filmmakers to the United States – the Embassy actually has a wall of classic movie posters for films with ties to Hungary, everything from Casablanca with its Hungarian-born director to the most recent addition, the Oscar-winning Son of Saul – so I have every confidence that this year’s “best film” will showcase the best of Hungary.

I’m so excited to say “And the Oscar—um, excuse me—and the Award for Best Film in the 2016 Budapest 48 Hour Film Festival goes to.…”  So let’s get on with the show.  As they say in Los Angeles, may I have the envelope please?